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Lawmaker proposes statewide ban on hand held cellular telephone use whilst driving

BOISE — A bill that might ban hand-held cellphone use whilst using in Idaho might be heard at the Senate floor.

The invoice from Sen. Jim Rice, a Republican from Caldwell, is the second one piece of legislation to be added this consultation that might make legal guidelines on cellphone use uniform across Idaho. While Idaho already has a statewide ban on texting and using, a handful of local governments around the kingdom — inclusive of the towns of Ketchum and Hailey and Blaine County itself — have installed place ordinances banning all handheld cellular telephone use at the back of the wheel.

Rice’s invoice, which surpassed thru the Senate Transportation Committee on a 6-2 vote Tuesday, follows an invoice from Rep. Chad Christensen of Ammon that might void the mobile phone bans in Blaine County and save you other neighborhood governments from passing similar ordinances. Christensen’s bill has no longer yet had to listen to in the House Local Government Committee, in which it changed into added.

“We’re starting to broaden a patchwork in our state of various handsfree tool regulation,” Rice stated.

The invoice from Rice could ban the use of handheld devices — together with telephones, tablets, and laptops — at the same time as driving, with some exceptions together with for emergencies, on-obligation regulation enforcement, and palms-unfastened GPS use. The invoice would additionally prohibit drivers from riding with headphones or Bluetooth devices in a couple of ear at a time.

“When we have chaos on the road or dangerous situations, that absolutely interferes with the number one right our citizens have on the roads,” Rice advised the committee — that primary proper being “the proper to tour.”

Under the invoice, a first-time culprit would be fined $50, a second-time wrongdoer $100, and a third-time culprit $200. Repeat offenders with 3 or more offenses inside three years may have their license suspended.

The invoice could also void all local bans on handheld cellular telephone use which are currently in place.

Existing nation law prohibits texting whilst using, however, metropolis officers in Ketchum and Hailey say the statute in the area doesn’t move ways enough. Current law essentially calls for police to get a warrant to look through a cellphone to show the suspected texter changed into indeed texting in preference to, say, studying an email or scrolling via Spotify. Because of the problem in implementing the state’s texting and using ban, participants of law enforcement say, citations are quite uncommon — with the only legal opportunity being the harsher misdemeanor rate of distracted driving.

Many distracted using citations arise handiest after a crash has already taken place, Rice instructed the committee.

“It’s when we’ve already created the worst end result,” Rice stated.

The Idaho Sheriff’s Association is in want of the bill, spokesman Michael Kane said at the listening to.

“The one element approximately freedom I’ve continually believed is the freedom to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose,” Kane stated.

Several coverage lobbyists also testified in prefer of the invoice, bringing up facts related to distracted using crashes.

The bill’s fighters include the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Spokesman Fred Birnbaum advised the committee to return to the bill to its sponsor, saying he had worries approximately how the invoice might have an effect on Uber and Lyft drivers. Rather than put in force a statewide hand-held cellular telephone ban, Birnbaum stated, he would like to look the Legislature alternate its distracted driving law to offer law enforcement more discretion.

Two committee contributors voted in opposition to the bill: Sen. Carl Crabtree, a Republican from Grangeville, and Sen. Van Burtenshaw, a Republican from Terreton.

Burtenshaw expressed problem that his son, who frequently uses headphones in both ears along with his iPhone, might be noted beneath the invoice, together with different young people.

“I applaud what you’re doing here, however I do have a few concerns,” Burtenshaw said. “I suppose that’s our technology developing.”

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